A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

Reboot January 25, 2016

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 6:37 pm

I just spent some time scrolling through this blog in disbelief.

It’s like reading about someone else. These past few years in New Jersey have brought so much change to my life. Some of it has been amazing. I moved across the country with my best friend and love of my life. We got engaged, then married. We bought a house together.  I got my MA, then a job teaching high school English.  In a lot of ways, my life has moved forward.

But health-wise, I have regressed. Moving to New Jersey was a difficult upheaval. I loved my life in Tucson, and I had settled into some (very healthy) habits.  But the garden state brought winters, depression, diners, pizza, and malaise.  While I was getting my MA, I was at least able to maintain a workout schedule. I love teaching, but it does not leave me with much time or energy for personal improvement.  I come home exhausted, starving, depressed, sapped.  My nights have been primarily Netflix and takeout.  A year and a half wiped clean my healthy habits of 5+ years.


worlds smallest violin

Thus concludes my solo on the world’s smallest violin

Once habits are formed, they are hard to break.  So I scrolled through this blog, looking for my old healthy habits to re-emerge, re-inspire.  And this is what I came up with.


  1. To have goals again.

This one may seem a little silly, but one of the things I liked the most about health and fitness was setting challenges for myself to strive for.  I push myself harder when I’ve got a pre-set standard I’m trying to achieve. So I’ve decided to re-start monthly challenges.  This month, I started off with the goal of exercising 6 days a week.  Here’s what I roughly worked out my schedule to be:

  • Monday: Gym class (cardio)
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Yoga
  • Thursday: Run 3 miles
  • Friday: Gym class x 2 (cardio + strength)
  • Saturday: Climb
  • Sunday: Run 3 miles

I can say upfront that I have not achieved this goal.  Last week, I missed two workout days.  This week, I’m counting my two 3-hour shoveling sessions as replacements for my Saturday and Sunday workout.  But with all that said, I have worked out more this month than probably the past six months combined, and I plan on finishing out the month strong.  I’m not sure what to do next month (suggestions?)–I might keep this schedule one more month, but combine it with my next goal, which is:

2. To eat healthier

This is a little more complicated.  When I started to lose weight, eating paleo was all the rage.  It was easy to stick to this with friends on board and support communities.  However, “paleo” has taken a lot of flack, and now “intuitive eating” is in.

I hate intuitive eating. I tried it, I swear.  Listen to what your body is telling you, they say! Eat “mindfully.”  Pay attention to your cravings.  Well, here’s what my body has to say:

Fast Food

Nom nom nom nom nom 

The word “intuition” means having the ability to understand or know something without any direct evidence or reasoning.  And maybe this works for some people. But I thrive on logic, evidence, and reasoning.  I don’t know why my internal food clock always says it’s time for chocolate, but it does. And thankfully, my logical reasoning brain can tell me that eating Phish Food for dinner isn’t a healthy choice.

So I don’t care that “paleo” is out.  I’m going to switch back to a “modified paleo diet,” which basically means a lot of lean meat and protein, healthy fat, and vegetables.  This is the cornerstone of every healthy diet ever.  If you’d like to read more about what this diet will entail, here’s a whole blog entry detailing what kind of food I’ll be eating.

3. To forgive myself

Nothing is harder than facing the reality of the situation. I’ve gained a lot of weight–around 20 lbs–and am in much worse shape than I used to be.  I feel less confident in my body, my clothes fit tightly (if at all), and I can no longer do the same activities that I used to do. I can’t run as fast. I can’t climb as well. I can’t do pull-ups.  I’m lucky if I can eke out 10 push-ups. I get aches and pains.  I feel old.  I’m less confident.

Forgiveness is an important first step.  I’m an emotional eater, and when I feel badly about myself I binge eat. I become sedentary.  When it’s hard to watch myself in the gym mirrors because I look chubby, when I can’t lift the same weights I used to, when I’m not as flexible as I once was, it’s easier to just sit at home and ignore it.

I need to forgive myself and accept the situation.  I’m not as fit, and that’s OK.  I need to accept that and move on.  This is much easier said than done, but it’s important to get out there.


2005 Vanessa


2010 Vanessa


2016 Vanessa


Fitness is a journey.  I’ve come a long when from when I started, and I’ve had some setbacks. But I think writing this entry, acknowledging the situation, and trying to retake control of myself are important first steps.  I’ll try to update this semi-regularly with progress, successes, failures, recipes, and challenges.


A Rant March 4, 2014

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 6:17 am

Maybe a rant isn’t the friendliest way to start off my paleo month, but winter in NJ hasn’t really left me feeling friendly.  So before I record my measurements/weight, I need to get a few things off my chest.

A disclaimer: I don’t mean to overgeneralize, even though I often sound like I am. Please forgive me for when I make sweeping statements to “you” about “women.”  I’m speaking from experience and disclaimering every few lines gets tiresome.

Can we please, please, please, stop telling women how they should look?  Everywhere I turn on the internet, women (and I’m sure men, too, but I’m talking about personal experience here) have it crammed down their throats that they need to look a CERTAIN way.  Be thinner. No, wait, don’t be thinner, be strong. No, don’t be strong, that’s gross– be curvy. Real women have curves.

And the realest woman award goes to... Circle!

And the realest woman award goes to… Circle!

I think the message is clear. YOU, i.e. how you look right now– that’s not good. Fix it.

Women (on my FB feed) are often times the worst perpetrators of this, so I am going to say something that I think needs to be said:  Putting down other women for how they look is not a healthy way to feel better about yourself.  Making fun of Miley Cyrus, saying that obviously gorgeous models are “fat,” or slamming skinny for not being “womanly” enough are not going to make you feel any better about your own body. We’re all guilty of this, and we all know it’s true.  So let’s try to stop– or at least be conscious of it when we do it.

One day, I will have the confidence to twerk in white pants.

One day, I will have the confidence to twerk in white pants.

The only thing worse than this is when women put down themselves.  We’re taught to hate ourselves, so we all do sometimes– I do, my mom does, my best friend does– because we’ve all internalized this message. WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. No. Matter. What.  Pick up a picture of yourself from when you now (in retrospect) can say you looked good. Now think about how you felt at the time. Did you feel like you looked good? Be honest with yourself–I’ll bet that if you think about it, you probably still weren’t happy with how you looked then.  But you did look good then and you look good now.

Two real life stories that help illustrate my point:

A few months ago, I signed up for 10 training sessions at Crunch gym.  This is a gym that is plastered with “No Judgements!” wall decals, seemingly subscribing to the “love yourself” fad.  I wanted these sessions to just be check-ups–make sure I’m eating healthy, make sure I’m exercising.  The trainer sat me down and asked me how much weight I wanted to lose. And the answer was none. I honestly didn’t want to lose any weight.  I wanted accountability to help me stay on track with my own goals–which involved working out and eating better.  Losing weight could happen, it could not happen, but that wasn’t my main objective–I just knew I was happier when I was doing those two things.

His response? Let’s measure your body fat percentage. Oh look–it says you’ve got too much fat. Count your calories. Eat 1200 calories a day. (The conversation that roughly followed: “Can’t I just eat healthy foods? I really don’t like counting calories.” “No.”)

Except when we are totally going to judge you, fatty mcfatpants

Except when we are totally going to judge you, fatty mcfatpants

I promptly asked to be reassigned to a different trainer, with whom I had a much better experience. But the message was clear–you are not good enough.

Second story:

At the peak of my fitness a few years ago, I dated a boy I’m going to call Howser.  At the time, I weighed my lightest–around 135-140lb–and was incredibly active. After a month or two of seeing each other, I asked him about being exclusive/more serious. His response? I wasn’t the “full package” because (I am being 100% serious here) my chest was too small.  He literally said this to me.

Spoiler: the package is full of boobs.

Spoiler: the package is full of boobs.

Now clearly he had some issues that went beyond my body.  But with that said, that was one of the only times that a (grown) man ever said something that derogatory about my body to me–and it was during a time in my life when I was thinner and in better shape than I had ever been before.

The moral of these stories is that if I try to please others, I will never be good enough.  Women spend so much energy trying to look good for other people, that it becomes difficult to even discern what looking “good” means to ourselves.  Sometimes I feel bloated and disgusting and sometimes I feel sexy and beautiful.  But do I *actually* look different at these times? Probably not.

I’ve struggled with weight and body image for most of my life. I was tortured as an overweight child, and as a result, I was self conscious about my body through adolescence into adulthood.  By the time I was 24, I had gained a lot of weight and was generally unhappy, so I made some life changes.  I didn’t magically feel great overnight.  But being healthy and fit helped me feel good about myself, because I could feel good about doing something for myself.  I choose to be healthy because of how it makes me feel–not because I want other people to think I’m attractive/strong/thin/amazing.

If opinions are like assholes, then women are constantly covered in shit.  Coming to terms with myself has meant coming to terms with the fact that no matter what I look like, some people won’t find me attractive–and that’s OK. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about conforming to someone else’s standard of beauty.  It’s about feeling good about myself and what I choose to do with my body.

I decided to do this rant at the start of my paleo month because a) it had been on my mind and b) I really didn’t feel like doing before/after photos, measurements, etc., because this month isn’t just about my body. I’ve been in a mental rut lately, so one of my main goals this month is to feel good–have more energy, be happier–not lose weight/inches.  Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t mind losing weight because I think it would help my run times for the half marathon I’m training for–but that’s not really what this is about.  I started a few days ago, and have already dropped a couple of pounds (which is normal for me whenever I drastically change my diet).  But my readers will just have to understand that (while it’s OK for me to want to improve myself physically), this month, it’s more about me mentally.

My before picture.

My before picture.


March Madness: Going Paleo February 24, 2014

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 9:30 pm

Recently, I just haven’t been feeling good.

I wouldn’t say I’m completely out of shape. I’m training for a half marathon, so I’m running 3-5 times a week, and I go indoor rock climbing 2-3 three times a week.  On paper, that looks like I’m living a pretty healthy, active lifestyle.

But winter has taken a toll on my mental health. Waking up before noon is a struggle, I lack motivation, and consequently my diet has gone to hell.  I still don’t eat fast food often, but I do eat my fair share of comfort food, with dark chocolate and sweet potato fries forming their own level on my food pyramid.

Secret Ingredient: Crack Cocaine

Secret Ingredient: Crack Cocaine

This summer, I’m turning the big 3-0.  I just got engaged and I’m finishing my last semester of graduate school– I’ve got a lot to look forward to. But I’m still overwhelmingly just feeling– well, blah.  And blah births blah. It’s a neverending blah-cycle of destruction.

Well, it’s time to break the cycle.  I think a good first step for me is diet. Eating comfort food is a quick fix for a bad mood, but in the end it leaves me feeling bloated, cranky, and tired.  So, for the month of March, I’m going paleo.

The paleo diet is a little controversial and definitely a lot culty (sorry crossfitters).  So let me come right out and say this upfront: the concept of the paleo diet (let’s eat what cavemen ate because they were totally healthy!) is dumb. It’s based on flawed logic that presumes that diet (which actually wildly varied for our ancestors depending on their region) is the reason that our prehistoric brethren didn’t have cancer, diabetes, or other modern day health concerns– completely ignoring the fact that they were all dead by age 35, well before most people get those diseases anyway.

Why does the diet need this stupid concept anyway? Eating isn’t religion. Eating doesn’t need a theoretical belief system to make it right.  And I’m pretty sure cavemen didn’t have protein powder.  I want this to be clear because I don’t think eating paleo is the only way to eat healthy, and I don’t strictly adhere to all the paleo rules.  Generally, the paleo diet just advocates what all healthy diets advocate: eat a lot of lean meat, fruits, and vegetables.  This is the cornerstone of every “eat healthy” diet.  So why say I’m going paleo at all?

Partly, it’s just for ease of communication.  But I do think that many of the paleo principles are a good fit for me. I hate portion control and counting calories; for me, it’s not sustainable. I also don’t like the way eating a lot of processed/grainy foods makes me feel, even when I do manage to consume them only moderately. In the past, when I’ve done a modified paleo diet, I’ve felt great– in fact, before I moved to New Jersey (the land of 24 hour diners and delicious pizza), my everyday diet was more or less paleo.  I got sick less, was happier, had more energy, and just generally felt better about myself.  Diet was just one component of why I felt good, but in the dark days of winter in New Jersey, I can at least control that part of my life.

So, what does “modified” paleo mean? Well, it means something different for everyone– that’s the beauty of modifying a diet. I’m going to try to stick to most of the basic paleo diet rules, but with a few key exceptions:

  • Dairy.  I’m not a big milk fan– I voluntarily buy coconut or almond milk at home anyway– but if I’m at work and I get a coffee, I’m putting some 2% milk in it.  They don’t have sugar-free alternatives, and honestly, 1/4 c of 2% milk isn’t going to ruin my diet, but it will definitely make my coffee more enjoyable.  I’m also going to still eat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and goat cheese.  These are all relatively healthy forms of dairy that pack a lot of protein, and since I don’t have a lactose intolerance, I don’t see the sense in excluding them from the diet.
  • Sweet potatoes. I don’t eat these too often, but including a small sweet potato in my diet a few days a week (especially since I’m half marathon training) is a healthy way to satisfy my inevitable carb cravings.
  • Fruit.  Usually, fruit is a big part of the paleo diet, but this is one food group that I will probably restrict more than the diet recommends.  I try to stick to low glycemic fruits, like berries and cantaloupe, although I will eat bananas when having smoothies or paleo pancakes.
  • Protein powder/bars. While highly processed food is usually a no-go, I will still use whey protein for my smoothies and Think Thin bars for a quick, sugarless, gluten-free protein-filled snack. I could shell out more $$ for official paleo protein/bars (just like the cavemen used to), but this doesn’t seem worth it.
  • Alcohol. Bottoms up! I don’t drink often, but if I feel like, I’m drinking.  I’ll try to stay away from sugary mixed drinks, but since my poison is usually diet coke and vodka (ew, right?), I should be fine.
  • Off days.  Once a week, I go on a long run– currently, it’s 7 miles, but it ticks up weekly for training.  On this day, I will not eat paleo. This doesn’t mean I’m going to McDonalds– but it does mean that if I want brown rice sushi, whole wheat pizza, sweet potato fries, or froyo, I’m going to eat it.

Will this make me lose weight? Maybe. Before I moved, my weight ranged from 140-145lbs. Here, my weight ranges from 145-150lbs.  I wouldn’t mind ditching the extra NJ weight, but if I don’t, I won’t be crestfallen. Health is more than weight– if I feel better, have more energy, improve my run times, and am less cranky, I am 100% fine with staying in this weight range– although I suspect that I’ll probably lose a little weight over the course of the month, especially when I first make the switch.  My goal is to blog my progress throughout the month. Because people absolutely love before and after statistics, I’ll document measurements/weight & maybe some photos, but keep in mind that I’m not necessarily doing this to see any sort of drastic physical changes. I’ll also document my running progress, mood, and daily diet for the month of March.

Cats: A Healthy Paleo Snack

Cats: A Healthy Paleo Snack



A Healthy Revival! March 31, 2013

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 5:06 pm

After years of neglect, I think it’s nigh time that I revive my health blog!  My healthy escapades didn’t end (and if you read my last blog post, even though I never posted my results, I’m pretty sure I did stick to my fitness challenge), but somewhere along the way my blogging waned.  Recently I’ve reminisced about the good ol’ blogging days, which always helped me stay motivated and focused, and so I thought… well, why not start up the blog again!  What better time than now!  Then I let two months pass.

But now I’m here and that’s what counts!  So what’s been up in my “fit” life?

Well, for the most part, a sad lack of focus on health and fitness.  After moving from Tucson (with an amazing rock climbing gym, Bikram studio and YMCA) to NJ (with… well, none of those things, plus a lot less free time) my healthy lifestyle took a nosedive.  I’d workout a few times a week, and sort of think about eating healthy while chowing down on delicious east coast pizza.

I noticed, though, that it wasn’t just my healthy lifestyle that had bit the dust.  Even though I may have not looked too different, I felt different.  I gained about 5lbs, lost almost most of my muscle, and just felt unattractive (in a way that no amount of supportive-boyfriend-compliments could help).  So last month, I decided to stop making excuses and start to change my lifestyle.

One of my biggest challenges is time.  Driving to/from the gym adds a precious extra twenty minutes to my workout that I could spend… well, working out.  And during the week, I’m pretty limited in my free time.  I also HATE getting up early to workout, in a it-makes-me-feel-like-hurling kind of way– especially if I try to do cardio.  So that’s why I opted for a home exercise plan.  After reading lots of reviews, I decided to go with:


Now, if you want, you can order the DVDs from their websitefor about $120.  I definitely DO NOT condone downloading these for free on a torrent site, and I DEFINITELY paid full price for them.  In all honesty, if you’re not sailing the seven seas of the internet like a pirate, $120 isn’t really too bad in comparison to the cost of a gym membership.

In addition, you’ll need some equipment, most of which I already had:

DSCN5836A pull-up bar

DSCN5831A yoga mat and a range of hand weights

As of this weekend I’ve survived my first month!  While I did take before pictures, I’ll only reveal those if there’s a notable difference at the end of the 3 month program.  However, this month I did drop about 2 lbs and a total of 3 3/4 inches (plus I gained a 1/4 inch on my flexed biceps)!  I also can officially do 4-5 pull-ups again, back to the same number I was at when I moved here six months ago!

The pros:

  • Variety!  There’s a different workout everyday for the first three weeks: three strength, two cardio, and one yoga.  If it’s nice out, I’ll sub out a cardio workout for a 5.25 mile run around the park.  Next month, I’ll be switching out two of the strength videos for two new ones.  Beach body calls this “muscle confusion.”  I call this not getting bored with the same stupid video over and over and over again.  Either way, it works well.
  • Results!  I can do pull-ups again.  I can see my upper abs.  I feel stronger.  I can run faster.  Yes, I have to push myself, and no, the workouts aren’t easy, but I consider those to be pros because otherwise, I’d just be bored.
  • Convenience!  I love that I can do this workout on my own time, at home.  I can’t blame class time available or traffic for not doing my workout, and I have complete control over my schedule.  Yes, the workouts are time consuming (six days a week for 1-1.5 hours a day), but because I know and can plan my schedule around this (and not have to add on any travel time) it totally works.

The cons:

  • Space!  I live in an apartment in NJ.  It’s not super small, but it’s not super large either.  Having to move my coffee table every time I want to work out definitely gets old.  So does having a limited amount of space for a few of the workouts.  For instance, core synergistics has me rolling all over the floor, which inevitably results in me covered in cat hair and bumping into the couch.
  • The diet!  I started this thinking I’d follow the diet, and I did for three whole weeks.  Not only did I not lose a pound, but I also felt like it promoted unhealthy binging during a once a week “cheat” I’d grant myself.  I found that, in trying to cram in the amount of protein the diet prescribed, I’d actually be eating more than I wanted– and instead of eating one square of dark chocolate or a cup of froyo when I craved it, I’d binge out once a week on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a bag of chocolate chips.  This week, I’ve dropped the diet and just practiced healthy, mindful eating, and I’ve lost almost 2lbs.  I’d say the diet is definitely more geared towards dudes who want to “beef up.”
  • The cheese!   Specifically, Tony Horton’s incredibly cheesy lines during the workouts.  Usually, I don’t mind it– it’s ridiculous and terrible, but laughing at him can sometimes help me work through the pain.  But when he quotes Forest Gump during yoga– in the stupid voice and all– it kind of kills it for me.

The program is three months long, so I’ll be posting my progress over the next two months!  I also talked a friend into doing it along with me, so if you’re interested in the male perspective on these workout videos (which, in my opinion, are geared towards men), I’ll report on how he progresses as well!

DSCN5824Olive asleep on my P90x worksheets… maybe she’s dreaming of Tony Horton!


A Month of Purgatory March 7, 2011

Filed under: Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 3:35 am

A few months ago I bought a LivingSocial deal for a month of unlimited classes at Crossfit Purgatory.  This past month my favorite step teacher at the YMCA quit, and I decided to put my membership on hold and give Purgatory a try.

I’ve done a few crossfit-style workouts before.  Typically they’re short, high intensity work outs that combine cardio and strength training.  If you’re curious, here’s a list of common crossfit exercises.  So I had a rough idea of what I’d gotten into.

I found that my difficulty with the WOD (workout of the day) would vary greatly depending on whether or not i’d done the activity before.  For instance, I’d always been a bit intimidated by these:

But after a couple weeks at crossfit, we were good friends!  I found myself using weights I’d have never picked up on my own and doing things with them I never thought possible (like 65 clean and jerks with 55lbs in 10 minutes).  I always felt like such a wimp there compared with some of the weights the people around me were using, but I was proud of myself for using them at all!  And for the record, one of the best new exercises I learned had to be the overhead squat. It works everything!

There were snags, of course.  Like the damnable jump rope!  I never jumped rope as a kid, and I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it.  So when it’d be a part of the WOD or the warmup, it was always a bit frustrating for me.  I did improve by the end, though!

So, here’s my very last WOD:

For the deadlift, the goal was to use the max weight possible (since the repetition number was so low).  I actually think I could have done more, but I felt good for doing 145lbs for my final set!   My partner very kindly took a few shots of me throughout the sets.  I look very determined!

Then it was on to the WOD.  I thought this would be a relatively tame one for me since i’m pretty familiar with sit ups and push ups.  Box jumps are just what you’d imagine– jumping onto a box.  Here’s the one I used (I had to stack a weight on top to up the height since all the bigger boxes got snagged):

By the end I was panting on the ground, barely able to move!  I said that I did 7 rounds, but I actually think I did 8.  But when in doubt, I go for the lower number!  When you finish with a workout, it gets written on a big white board for all to see.  This is one of my favorite parts– it builds both a competitive and cooperative environment, where you get to cheer on friends, congratulate them on a workout, but still turn it into a sort of game where you want the best “score”.

All in all I REALLY enjoyed my month at Crossfit Purgatory!  It had a really welcoming environment, and was a great way to make some new friends.  The workouts were COMPLETELY kick ass, and I can tell I’m way more buff.  The instructors were supportive and pushed me just the right amount.  I also noticed my climbing improve from all the strength work!  The only problem?  The cost.  It’s way more $$ than your average monthly gym, and I sadly can no longer afford it.  But if you’ve got the money to spend, I completely recommend it!

This month I’m going to be training for my half marathon!  Expect an mid-month update on my training!


When life gives you snow, you make… a parking spot!? December 28, 2010

Filed under: Exercise — fitnessie @ 4:21 pm

I’ve officially survived the blizzard of 2010!  I’m sure that snow for a lot of people just means a hassle and a mess, but to this Tucsonian it means 20″ inches of fluffy white fun fell all over the state!  However, it definitely meant no running on the track for a couple days.  I guess I’m just not hardcore enough to try to wade-run!

However, this didn’t grind my exercise resolution to a halt.  Save for Christmas day, I’ve exercised every day of my trip!  So I couldn’t wait to go outside yesterday and shovel my Mom out of this winter wonderland!

As long as the wind didn’t blow, I wasn’t too cold, despite how ill-equipped for the snow I was.  No snow pants, no snow gloves (by the end of it I went through three pairs!), and certainly no snow boots.  But I completed the walkway in no time, and thought to myself, this is going to be easy!

And then I saw my Mom’s car.  This was some intense shoveling!  The snow plough had made drifts half as high as me all around her SUV, which needed a pretty sizeable space shoveled around it.  So, I shoveled.  And shoveled and shoveled and shoveled.  I was a shoveling machine!  My Mom helped a little, but has been feeling sick, so most of this was all me.

So, here I am, about to fall over one sweaty, shovel-tastic hour later.  Afterwards I felt some well-deserved snow fun was in order, so we headed to the park!   My Mom and I built a snow man, made snow angels, and frolicked.  After all, how many times will I get to play in snow like this again!?

Here’s the worlds smallest little snowman chilling out in the park.  My mom brought out a bag of the carrot chips we’ve been eating all week for the decorations.  Cute little guy!

And let me just say… I woke up this morning with a practically paralyzed shoulder!  That was some GREAT exercise!  Now I just need that snowman to come to life and give me a massage!


Home for the Holidays! December 24, 2010

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health,Recipes — fitnessie @ 6:02 pm

So, eating healthy this time of year is near impossible– but that doesn’t mean ALL healthy things have to go down the drain!

I haven’t done much exercise the past few weeks, and I could feel it.  I hate losing muscle!  So this trip home to NJ I resolved to exercise, in some way, everyday.  This is going to prove to be a challenge, since my Mom’s treadmill sadly bit the dust right before my trip!  But a resolution is a resolution, so on my first day here I bundled up and headed down to the beautiful outdoor public track at Hudson County Park.

By the time my Mom and I got out of the house it was already 3:15.  To my Arizona readers, I should explain that during the winter in NJ, it gets dark at like, 4:30.  So, the sun was already starting to go down.  Needless to say, I was incredibly thankful that my mom insisted we stop and get sweat bands to keep our ears warm.  And had an extra pair of gloves in her car.    I ran about 3 miles in about 30 minutes (I didn’t clock myself, but the cold air takes my breath away much quicker).    The run left me florid cheeked and winded (and somehow simultaneously hot and cold) but it felt great!

It was almost made infinitely better by this (re)gift from my Mom:

I actually gave this little guy to my mom a few years ago for Christmas, but after she read my blog post she admitted to me she never used it much, and that I could “borrow” it until she thought she’d get some more use out of it.  I reluctantly accepted, but am very glad i did.  It was GREAT to have on my run and will be a nice motivator for me to run outdoors more in Tucson!  I’ve also made the new addition of the new Kanye West song, Monsters, to my running playlist, and highly recommend the entire album.

Yesterday I did calisthenics (squats, push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips, & calf raises) which I am TOTALLY sore from today.  Hopefully I’ll get out for another run today since there’s snow predicted for tomorrow!

Everyone knows this time of year is filled with sweets and I am definitely having my fair share.  So, after devouring an entire container of holiday cookies/chocolate, I decided that my mom and I should try out a recipe I got from a student for super amazing sugar/oil/butter free cookies!

Jordan’s Super Amazing Healthy Cookies


  • 2 bananas (mashed)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (sugar-free)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 dried fruit (I used raisins)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (I used pecans)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all spice, ginger, cloves, or really any warm spice you want (though we sadly only had cinnamon)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla (optional)

Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl in the order they’re shown, stirring after each ingredient.  Then, spoon dough onto a greased cookie sheet.

You can make the portion sizes smaller than this if you want to.  I added pecans to the tops of half the cookies since my Mom’s boyfriend is allergic, but I think they’d be better mixed into the dough.  Bake them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

When they came out of the oven I drizzled honey on top of them just to give them a little added sweetness/texture.  Fair warning:  these little cookies aren’t your typical holiday sugary sweet treat.  They taste more like little granola bars.  I think they’ll make great pre/post workout snacks! I’m also of thinking of making some variations to the recipe– either adding applesauce or just eliminating the flour entirely.

And of course, no holiday season would be completely without my Grandma’s homemade matzoh ball soup!  Normally we eat it together for Hanukkah, but since it came so gosh darn early this year, I had to have a belated bowl.

So happy holidays everyone!  Tonight I’ll be headed to a Spanish restaurant to celebrate my Mom’s boyfriend’s birthday, and tomorrow I’ll wake up and tear open gifts in front of our tree and then feast on our traditional Christmas pork roast!  What do you do for the holidays?  What are your healthy (or not so healthy) holiday plans?